Getting fired from a job isn’t fun for anyone, but it can be the difference between having a career and having no career at all when you’re an actor. When actors are given the boot from successful TV shows, it can lead to rumors running rampant. Were they difficult to work with? Was something bad going on in their personal life? Did they not get along with their costars? Did they pull a Joey Tribbiani and say they wrote all their own lines?
When an actor gets that black mark next to their name, it can be “game over” for their career, because it’s often with a degree of trepidation that anyone may want to work with them again. An abrupt dismissal from the set can leave viewers with a lot of questions, so we rounded up 20 TV actors who were suddenly given the boot.
20 Katherine Heigl, Grey’s Anatomy
Katherine Heigl put her foot firmly in her mouth when she decided to publicly announce her withdrawal from the Emmys on account of not having enough material to work with. The action prompted a sudden shift on the Grey’s Anatomy front, with Heigl promptly being written out of the show and essentially ruining her chances of a successful career.
19 Columbus Short, Scandal
Another casualty of the Shonda Rhimes machine was Columbus Short of Scandal, who was booted from the show following a bout of legal trouble that included domestic disputes with his then-wife, a restraining order, and multiple addictions. His character was suddenly killed off after three years on the hit series.
18 Clayne Crawford, Lethal Weapon
Playing well with others is important on the set, and Clayne Crawford wasn’t up to the challenge. During the second season of Lethal Weapon, Crawford was fired following an outburst about potentially “unsafe” workplace conditions. The final straw was when Crawford was directing an episode and, ironically, another actor was hit with a piece of shrapnel! Crawford was replaced with Seann William Scott for the third season.
17 Leah Remini, The Talk
Leah Remini has been outspoken about her departure from Scientology, and her frank attitude on a number of issues has rubbed other celebs the wrong way. According to Remini, her abrupt dismissal from The Talk was due to her relationship with co-host Sharon Osbourne. Remini said that Osbourne called her “ghetto” and campaigned to have her let go from the show.
16 Roseanne Barr, Roseanne
Politics can get nasty, and Twitter is the enemy of many a celeb, especially Roseanne Barr, who shot herself in the foot back in 2018 when she posted some seriously offensive Tweets. As a result, ABC cancelled her eponymous revival (which had record-high ratings), and ended up going forward with a show without her, renamed The Conners.
15 Robert Downey Jr., Ally McBeal
Personal demons can destroy burgeoning success, as Robert Downey Jr. knows all too well. Before he was Iron Man, Downey Jr. was on Ally McBeal, even winning a Golden Globe for his work. Alas, in April 2001, Downey was arrested for the second time and the show finally had to write his character out, changing the entire series finale.
14 Nicollette Sheridan, Desperate Housewives
A show about catty women was bound to have some cattiness on set, and reports said that Nicollette Sheridan was one of the worst offenders. Rumors emerged that she fought with producers, writers, and her costars, and her diva attitude was to blame for her character suddenly getting killed off in the fifth season of the show.
13 Suzanne Somers, Three’s Company
Fighting the good fight for equal pay back in the 1970s was Suzanne Somers – and she got fired for it! After four seasons of Three’s Company, Somers asked for a raise that would match her pay with costar John Ritter. ABC offered her a paltry sum in response, so Somers simply didn’t show up.
In the end, they fired her, and introduced a new character as her cousin.
12 Janet Hubert, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
If you don’t get along with the Fresh Prince, you don’t work! After three seasons, the original Aunt Viv – played by Hubert – was replaced with Daphne Reid, something Hubert chalks up to her sour relationship with star Will Smith. Decades later, Hubert still has no kind words for her former costar, who she credits with ruining her career.
11 Lisa Bonet, The Cosby Show
Popular with viewers, Lisa Bonet’s character Denise Huxtable earned her own spin off (A Different World), but then Bonet got married and pregnant after the first season, and later participated in a nude photoshoot. In response to her actions, Bonet was written off of HER OWN spinoff and removed from The Cosby Show after season seven due to “creative differences”.
10 Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men
Charlie Sheen’s antics have become almost legend in their ridiculousness, and they were the reason his lead character was killed off of Two and a Half Men. Arguments with creator Chuck Lorre, outrageous behavior in interviews, and a spiralling personal life caused Sheen to be let go in an 11-page letter that described him as “sick”. He was replaced with Ashton Kutcher.
9 Selma Blair, Anger Management
A costar of Charlie Sheen in Anger Management, Selma Blair didn’t have the best time working with the volatile actor. Blair stated that she believed she was wrongfully terminated after complaining about Sheen holding things up as he tried to learn his lines. She even slapped Sheen and Lionsgate Entertainment with a suit for $1.2 million for their decision.
8 Thomas Gibson, Criminal Minds
Even 12 seasons on a show can’t guarantee you immunity when you’re misbehaving, as Thomas Gibson of Criminal Minds learned. Reports surfaced that the actor got into a physical altercation with writer/producer Virgil Williams, and he was booted from the show, despite production already being well underway. The show explained his absence as his character being placed in Witness Protection.
7 Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
His role as Maura Pfefferman earned him loads of awards, but Jeffrey Tambor’s behavior behind the scenes was what caused him to suddenly be booted from the acclaimed series. After four seasons, the actor was fired amid claims of harassment on behalf of a guest star and personal assistant. Tambor denied the claims, and the show has been in limbo ever since.
6 Shannen Doherty, Beverly Hills, 90210 and Charmed
You know you’ve gotta be a handful when you’re suddenly axed from not one but two shows, which is what happened to Shannen Doherty. Her bad attitude led to costar Tori Spelling getting her fired from 90210 while an ongoing feud with costar Alyssa Milano was what saw her suddenly replaced on Charmed – without her costars knowing what was happening!
5 Ed Westwick, White Gold
Another celeb who got his comeuppance for his inappropriate behaviour was Ed Westwick, who was scheduled to be replaced for the second season of BBC’s White Gold following accusations from three separate women that he had assaulted them. Westwick was never prosecuted for the crimes, but his career has suffered a significant setback from the allegations.
4 Taylor Momsen, Gossip Girl
Westwick’s costar, Taylor Momsen, found herself falling out of producers’ good graces following her childish and diva antics on the set of Gossip Girl. While Momsen wanted to pursue a music career, she was unceremoniously let go due to her “unreliable and erratic behavior” on the set. Guest star Tim Gunn later called the actress a “brat”, a “diva”, and “pathetic” for not being able to remember her lines.
3 Danny Masterson, The Ranch
Allegations of misconduct have followed That ‘70s Show star Danny Masterson for ages, but it wasn’t until the height of the #MeToo era that they finally came to light and caused the actor to deal with the deserved consequences.
Alongside friend Ashton Kutcher, Masterson starred on the Netflix show The Ranch – until 2017, when he was finally dismissed and dropped by his talent agency.
2 Isaiah Washington, Grey’s Anatomy
Another actor who got on Shonda Rhimes bad side was Isaiah Washington, whose behavior on the set of Grey’s Anatomy spurred a sudden dismissal of his character, Dr. Preston Burke. After being heard using slurs against costar T.R. Knight, Rhimes fired Washington despite him being a major character on the series. He appeared once more later on in the show, but his time in the sun was done.
1 Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
After a bombshell interview with Anthony Rapp was printed in 2017, the world around Kevin Spacey began to crumble, including his incredibly successful Netflix show House of Cards. Decades of bad behavior came to light and the entire scandal saw Spacey’s illustrious career go up in smoke.
The HoC creators killed off his character, Frank Underwood, and replaced him with his on-screen wife for the show’s final season.